Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, April 16, 2011

£100 for Child Support Enforcement

A new proposal in the UK would require parents to pay £100 for the state to initiate child support collection.  Read about it here.


April 16, 2011 in Child Support Enforcement | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Burstrand-Reid: "'Trophy Husbands' and 'Opt-Out' Moms"

Beth Burkstrand-Reid (Univ. of Neb. College of Law) has posted "‘Trophy Husbands’ and ‘Opt-Out’ Moms" (34 Seattle Univ. L. Rev. (2011)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Women were not the only ones opting out.

Nearly one year before The New York Times, in its article “The Opt-Out Revolution,” showcased highly educated, upwardly mobile women opting out of paid work for the lure of staying at home, Fortune magazine had already reported that some men, which it coined “trophy husbands,” had been doing the same. “Trophy husbands” were presented as leaving paid work by choice, like their later opt-out counterparts.

Opt-out moms and trophy husbands – as described in these two germinal stories – have much in common. While, on the surface, the actions of these mothers and fathers may have been voluntary or even altruistic, at their core, their actions reinforce Joan Williams’ assertions that deep problems pervade the legal regime surrounding families and employment.

This essay builds on Williams’ work by using “Trophy Husbands,” to examine how fathers fit into the opt-out conversation. Whether “Trophy Husband” or “Opt-Opt” mom, the formerly paid worker at issue may actually have been pushed out of paid employment. Thus, both stories demonstrate that by focusing on the “choice” to stay home, we may neglect the important work of addressing work-life balance law reform.


April 15, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New WVU College of Law Child/Family Law Clinic

Congratulations to the West Virginia University College of Law for opening a new Child and Family Law clinic on April 8, offering much needed services.

Read about it here.


April 15, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ryznar: "Underwriting Credit Cards, Overwriting Congress, and Rewriting Family Law: The Treatment of Household Income in Consumer Lending"

Margaret Ryznar has posted "Underwriting Credit Cards, Overwriting Congress, and Rewriting Family Law: The Treatment of Household Income in Consumer Lending" (forthcoming St. John's L. Rev.) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Remarkably, the Federal Reserve has proposed rules that would prevent stay-at-home mothers from opening credit cards in their own names. These rules would require credit card issuers to consider only a person’s independent income, and not the household’s income, when underwriting credit cards in an effort to protect young adults unable to repay debt. However, in addition to keeping credit cards away from young adults, the proposed rules would problematically do the same for a larger group of people: non-income earning spouses, constituted primarily of stay-at-home mothers. Given the possibility that the rules may have exceeded Congressional intent, and given the significantly negative effects of the Federal Reserve rules due to the importance of access to the credit card market - particularly in light of the historical exclusion of women’s participation in legal and economic affairs - the Federal Reserve’s proposed rules require immediate reconsideration. The final rules, or their amendments, should recognize the non-income earning spouse’s financial participation in the household.


April 14, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


From Time:

The Internet is a dangerous place for kids. Sickos hover in chat rooms, pornographic sites titillate, cyberbullies lurk. But last month, the enemy assumed an unexpected form: mom.

In the what-was-she-thinking category, Kate Tietje used an essay on Babble to let the world in on a secret: she loves her son more than her daughter. Here, in Arial font for perpetuity, is proof that our embrace of cyberculture has not been a good thing for the human impulse. Shopaholics can now plunk down their credit card at any hour of the day. The information-obsessed can track down thousands of obscure Web pages on thousands of obscure subjects in a millisecond. And, in the Web equivalent of TMI, anyone with a keyboard — mommy bloggers, I'm talking to you — can publish overly personal sentiments, just like that.

Since when did it become a good idea to freely acknowledge favoring one child over another, particularly via such a widespread medium where Tietje's daughter can read all about it one day?

Read more here.



April 14, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

U.S. 5th Circuit Rules Against Gay Dads in Birth Certificate Case

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled, on en banc rehearing, against two men who legally adopted a child in New York and then sought a Louisiana birth certificate for the Louisiana-born child listing both of them as fathers.  The court held that neither equal protection nor full faith and credit required Louisiana to change their birth certificate practice to recognize the adoption.

Read the lengthy opinion and multiple concurrences and dissents here.  Download Adar v. Smith.


April 13, 2011 in Adoption | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

An Idyllic Childhood

The Atlantic recently ran an interesting perspective of how to raise children:

We seem to have returned to the 18th-century notion that play for its own sake is a waste of time, that children can be allowed to pursue their natural inclinations only if those can be channeled into activities that will prepare them to be orderly and productive (and now, God help us, “creative”) adults—even today’s play movement stresses the uplifting “educational value” of play. But childhood is not just preparation for “real life,” it’s a good portion of life itself. If the golden years of childhood are from age 3 to 12, they encompass more than twice the time people spend in what is generally regarded as a focal point of life: the college years. As Smith’s memoir demonstrates, childhood—those first, fresh experiences of the world, unclouded by reason and practicality, when you are the center of existence and anything might happen—should be regarded less as a springboard to striving adulthood than as a well of rich individual perception and experience to which you can return for sustenance throughout life, whether you rise in the world or not. Children have a knack for simply living that adults can never regain. If they’re allowed to exercise it a bit, perhaps they’ll have childhoods, like Smith’s, worth remembering.

Read more here.


April 13, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cohen & Sayeed: "Fetal Pain, Abortion, Viability and the Constitution"

I. Glenn Cohen (Harvard) & Sadath Sayeed (Harvard Univ.-Harvard Medical School) have posted "Fetal Pain, Abortion, Viability and the Constitution" (39 The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (2011)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Can a U.S. state prohibit pre-viability abortions based on concerns about fetal pain?

Given that recent legislation in Nebraska purports to do so, and the fact that similar efforts are now working through the legislative process in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and other states, the question is a pressing one.

In this short paper for the leading peer-reviewed law and medicine journal, we are the first to comprehensively examine from a constitutional, medical, and bioethical perspective these efforts to prohibit early abortion based on concerns about fetal pain.


April 12, 2011 in Abortion, Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Canadian Family Law Reform

From the Globe and Mail:

One of Canada's best hopes for family-law reform is Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler: He is influential, has a track record of reform and has sounded a steady drumbeat for change. And his patience is wearing thin.

“At a certain point, let's not adjust any more,” Chief Justice Winkler said from his home in rural Ontario. “This has been studied to death. We have to sit down with a white piece of paper and redesign the system. It has to be made cheaper, faster and simpler, without convoluted rules.”


Chief Justice Winkler's manifesto for change, which he has been advocating for about a year, is based on a premise that most litigants cannot afford the financial and emotional toll of navigating a cumbersome process that leads from separation to the final dissolution of a marriage.

His model system would see a “triage” judge hear the gist of a case as soon as an action is launched. The judge would decide which track it is best suited for: mediation, traditional court processes, quick movement to decide child custody, and so on.

Read more here.


April 12, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Capers: "Real Rape Too"

I. Bennett Capers has posted "Real Rape Too" (99 Cal. L. Rev. (2011)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

As a society, we have been largely indifferent to the prevalence of male rape victimization. In the prison context, we dismiss it as par for the course, as "just deserts," or worse yet, as a rarely stated but widely known component of deterrence. We treat prisons as invisible zones, as zones without law, as zones that need not concern us. Outside the prison context, our response is no better. We tell ourselves male rape victimization is a rarity, or perhaps something that only happens to gay men. In short, we render male victim rape invisible, or at least un-articulable. This Article renders male victim rape visible.

This Article is also a critique of unjust silence and unjust talk. It is a critique of the unjust silence surrounding male rape victimization that permeates legal scholarship about rape. And it is a critique of the unjust talk about the specter of male rape that permeates self-defense and provocation cases. The Article argues that re-conceptualizing rape as a gender-neutral crime might help advocates of rape law reform forge new alliances. It posits that addressing the reality of male victim rape can help us rethink the very real harm of rape. And it demonstrates that incorporating the reality of male victimization can have profound implications for rethinking the law of rape.

What motivates this Article is the underlying belief that rape has been gendered for too long. Originally, it was gendered in a way that tilted the scales to benefit men: men as fathers, men as husbands, and men as rapists. Feminists were right to point out the sexism inherent in traditional rape laws in this country. Though many, including Catherine MacKinnon, were wrong to view rape as solely a mechanism of male domination of women. But the real problem is this: In arguing for reform, feminist scholars have legitimized and contributed to the very gender distinctions of which they have been so critical. In response to one form of subordination, they have entrenched another. Many rape statutes have been reformed so that they are gender neutral, but how we apply those laws is still very much gendered. As a consequence, male victims have suffered. But more broadly, the law of rape has suffered. And it shows.


April 11, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Romance Regrets

From Live Science:

While the common adage may encourage you not to dwell on the past, a new study finds that many harbor regrets, with romantic ones being particularly common.

But women outdid men in that category, with guys ranking work regrets above relationship ones, the researchers say.


Nearly 45 percent of women expressed regret in the area of love, while less than 20 percent of men did. Meanwhile, nearly 35 percent of men expressed work regrets, compared with less than 30 percent of women.

Read more here.


April 11, 2011 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Burkstrand-Reid: "The More Things Change . . . Abortion Politics & the Regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology"

Beth Burkstrand-Reid (Univ. of Neb. College of Law) has posted "The More Things Change...:Abortion Politics & the Regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology" (79 UMKC L. Rev. (2010)) on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

Abortion and assisted reproductive technology (“ART”) may seem paradoxical in reproductive health: a woman seeks to terminate a pregnancy in the first, while a woman goes through herculean attempts to attain one in the latter. In fact, they share fundamental concerns: women’s health and autonomy. Both include medical procedures, with potential health risks and benefits, and both help a woman choose whether and when to become a mother. Abortion and ART share another commonality: when these issues enter public and political discourse, consideration of women’s health often recedes into the background. This response to articles by June Carbone and Jody Lyneé Madeira suggests that issues central to the development of abortion-related regulation and jurisprudence have the potential to drive the development of ART and related law.


April 10, 2011 in Scholarship, Family Law | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)